While President Obama's State of the Union address from Tuesday night is now history, the ongoing impact on cleantech and nanotech is yet unknown.
Cleantech was strongly promoted in the speech, of course. A gap exists, however, where on one hand, the government speaks of funding basic research, whereas on the other hand, the government speaks of end impact on society like large numbers of electric cars being driven. What about the middle? Attention must be given to advancing avenues for getting from R&D to U.S. jobs and large volume manufacturing. We in technology transfer well-know the middle zone, related to the "valley of death," but does the government understand this concept and if so, what is it doing about it?
On the middle zone, President Obama stated, "Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they're selling. So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: by 2035, 80% of America's electricity will come from clean energy sources. Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas.To meet this goal, we will need them all – and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen."
With 2035 set as the goal date, what impact will this have on the timeliness of our nation's cleantech commercialization?
Nanotech was not addressed, leaving the federal government's huge NNI investment in the shadows. Government monitoring as to how the NNI billion dollar spending is promoting better cleantech and medicine, as well as defense and electronics, among other applications, is imperative. For example, 15 new 977 nanotech patents issued yesterday - are these impacts of the NNI investment? Also, what is the Obama Administration's position on improving Bayh-Dole? If universities file commercialization reports, is anyone in the government reading them or making sense of all the development? Mentioning patents to the public is a mere starting point to raising awareness, noting the context of their actual role in the marketplace would help to increase the public's understanding.
One suggestion is, with all due respect, stronger, wider promotion of a federal invention commercialization policy to achieve the goals espoused by Obama. State governments should also pursue this avenue.